The Textile Arts Center’s artist-in-residence program is currently in its sixth “cycle.” Each consists of around eight fiber and textile artists at work combining the Center's mission of “interdisciplinary learning with a deep focus on technical and professional development.” Located in Gowanus, Brooklyn, NY, the Textile Arts Center is also home to after-school classes, adult education, a children’s summer camp, and more. The Creators Project spoke with some former and current residents of the program to get a taste for what it’s like to spend time in a fiber-arts residency.
“The great thing about the program was that you really could just play,” says Kaelyn Garcia, an artist who teaches embroidery, lace-making, and millinery in NYC and Detroit. “So if I wanted to sketch, or if I wanted to knit something, I could, which was really nice. I came from a textile background, so I pushed away from that and started doing work that was completely different. I was collaging paper and making two-dimensional sculptures.”
“In a way it reminded me of being back in school, where you’re able to make things without really caring about the end product. I was really interested in doing that again, so that’s how I came to the residency.”
Each residency program ends with a final show, where the residents display their work in a Brooklyn gallery. “I was really interested in family lineage” Kaelyn says about her final project. “Your family had a whole life before you came along, and I wanted to explore that idea. I had these old photographs that I had of my mom and dad, photos they’d taken in college, so I decided that I would blow these photographs up and treat them like tapestry.”
“For me the residency was a recess from screen printing,” Explains Hannah Schultz, a screenprinter based in Brooklyn. “It was a time for me to explore new techniques as well as return to old favorites using only salvaged/found materials. This constant explorative way of working encouraged in me a playful interaction with cloth. I decided to give myself a design challenge to develop my work into a game, so I designed variants of old school paper and pencil games such as pencil wars, football, and squares.” Hannah also works with found materials and reused studio scraps to create hanging planters and other home goods.
Hannah also describes the collaborative nature of the program: “If you go early for open studio you can usually catch the tail end of the kids after-school program where you'll be inspired by their color sensibilities. Or sometimes you can work quietly while a class is being taught and float some new tricks of the trade or overhear student/teacher banter that stimulate new thought processes. The atmosphere of TAC is always buzzing with innovative design and helpful hands.”
“My work at TAC was just an extension of what I normally do, which is to make,” describes current resident Yoshiyuki Minami, who runs the studio Manonik. “In fact, my initial plan for the upcoming show never budged at all. I started the program wanting to learn techniques to add more variety to my work. I ended the program wanting to learn more techniques to be better at what I do.”
“TAC ensured that we thought and acted as a community. We got to learn together, critique each other's work, and teach at a public school. We'll also have a group show together. Creativity is always around at TAC, and it is one's responsibility to explore.”
Click here to visit the Textile Arts Center's website.